Spanning nearly 60 years, 24 official movies, and 6 different actors, James Bond is the spy (ironically) that everyone knows. Based on the writings of Ian Fleming, it is the longest continually running film series of all time and the sixth highest-grossing film series to date.
The best part of the series is that with so many different films, actors, styles, and moods, everyone’s list of favorites will be different. You might like the gritty and flawed take on the character by Daniel Craig or you might have a soft spot for the campy fun that was the Roger Moore era. With an emphasis on including at least one film from every era, here’s a list of few of my favorites (in no particular order)
We might as well start this list from the very beginning. Dr. No is the movie that introduced us to Bond with Sean Connery giving us a wonderfully suave and surprising gritty first outing. It’s a fun movie with a fantastic villain (also the first mention of the shadowy organization known as SPECTRE) and still holds the title for my favorite utterance of the iconic phrase: “Bond, James Bond”.
As Agent 007 investigates a gold smuggling ring he uncovers a plan to attack Fort Knox’s gold reserve. The story might sound over the top (because it is) but this is the quintessential Bond film. The villains are unforgettable, the gadgets are ridiculous, and the one-liners never stop coming.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
He may have only starred in one film but George Lazenby did a fantastic job in the role and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is an oft-forgotten gem. Not only is George Lazenby fantastic but Telly Savalas seems born to play the role of Blofeld and Game of Thrones fans will spot the queen of thorns herself, Diana Rigg, as this movie’s Bond girl.
The Spy Who Loved Me
I wrestled for a while between this movie and The Man With The Golden Gun but ultimately decided on The Spy Who Loved Me for Three reasons: The final battle on the ship is just too awesome, I absolutely love Wet Nellie (the car/submarine hybrid in the shape of a Lotus sports car), and how can you not love the corniest henchmen of all, Jaws.
I swear I’m not just picking this one because it also has Jaws (although that’s definitely part of it). If you love campy movies, you need to watch Moonraker. This one falls into the “just-bad-enough-to-actually-be-good” category perfectly. It’s James Bond, in space. Need I say more? Oh, and there are laser guns.
License to Kill
The second of only two Timothy Dalton films, Licence to Kill is a grittier movie that has bond venturing on a personal quest for vengeance when his friend in the CIA, Felix Leiter, is gravely injured by a drug lord. Following the campiness of the Roger Moore era, I don’t think fans were quite ready for the darker Dalton films but going back to them now, I think they are more similar to Daniel Craig’s films than any others.
If you grew up playing the Nintendo 64 then you no doubt remember nights of slappers only on Bunker. If not, that’s okay because the movie the game was based on is still fantastic without the rose-tinted nostalgia. Pierce Brosnan’s first outing as Bond is awesome and he suits the tuxedo perfectly. It is also the first appearance of the wonderful Judi Dench as M.
The World Is Not Enough
Filled with treachery and backstabbing, this film might be Bond at his most savage. Pierce Brosnan’s Bond is known as the take no prisoner type (considering he has the highest kill count out of all the Bonds at 134) and he definitely personifies that trait in this film. Robert Carlyle also plays the fantastic villain, Renard, pitch perfectly.
A blond hair, blue-eyed Bond? People were a little on the fence at first when they heard about Daniel Craig’s first outing but this fear was quickly alleviated once they saw Casino Royale. This movie brought us back to the beginning of James Bond’s double-O career when he was brash, arrogant, and believed he was the last word in espionage.
Ending the list is my personal favorite. Skyfall is masterfully directed by Sam Mendes with Director of Photography Roger Deakins at his side (the same duo who shot the recent 1917) so every scene is a painting of light, shadow, and colour. It is also filled to the brim with unbelievable performances from Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, and showstopping villain, Javier Bardem.
Some of these movies you can find on streaming services like Netflix, Crave, or Prime but if all else fails you can rent them for a few bucks on Youtube. What are your favorites?
Featured image courtesy of Pixabay via Pexels.com